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Beyond Covid: Las Vegas Strip Faces a New Health Scare

Dr. Sandra Bonat, pediatric advisor at VIPStar Network, answered TheStreet’s questions about the looming health situation in Las Vegas.



Dr. Sandra Bonat, pediatric advisor at VIPStar Network, answered TheStreet's questions about the looming health situation in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas attracts people from all over the world then puts them in fairly close quarters sharing food, drinks, and generally breathing the same air. That puts the city -- and really any major tourist destination -- at risk to become ground zero for infectious diseases.

That's partially how covid spread around the world, but the problem in Las Vegas isn't that covid, flu, RSV, and now the Candida Auris (C. Auris) fungus are spreading, it's that they're all impacting people at the same time. With the first three viruses already labeled a "tripledemic," adding C. Auris, a drug-resistant fungus that has been labelled a "serious global health threat" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further pushes healthcare resources to the brink.

C. Auris further compounds those resource risks because it can thrive in healthcare settings causing bloodstream infections and even death. 

Dr. Sandra Bonat, pediatric adviser at VIPStar Network, which provides health services for Netflix and Amazon's film studios as well as for major sporting events, answered some questions from TheStreet about C. Auris, and the general healthcare crisis facing Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip.

Image source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Las Vegas Faces a Unique Healthcare Situation     

TheStreet: How serious a threat is C.Auris in a packed tourism-driven city like Las Vegas?

Bonat: Candida Auris is a yeast type of fungus that is often resistant to one or more of the drugs that are used to treat Candida infections. It has caused outbreaks in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. Candida Auris infections occur primarily in patients who are hospitalized and those who have problems with their immune systems. It is not likely to cause a serious infection in a healthy person traveling to Las Vegas or anywhere else.

TheStreet: Are the issues complicated by the so-called "tripledemic" of Covid, RSV, and flu?

Bonat: The tripledemic is causing a spike in hospitalizations around the country. Patients who are hospitalized are at higher risk of contracting a C. Auris infection. With the outbreak of C.Auris currently in a few Las Vegas hospitals, those being hospitalized in Las Vegas will have an increased risk of exposure to C. Auris.

TheStreet: What should tourists do to stay safe?

Bonat: There are a number of things that tourists can do to reduce their risk of infection. Vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent infection and reduce transmission of both Covid 19 and Influenza.

Good hand hygiene through frequent hand washing and/or the use of hand sanitizer is essential to reducing the spread of infections. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces are also effective ways to reduce the transmission of infections. Masks help reduce transmission of respiratory viruses and should be worn in crowded indoor spaces. In addition, people should stay home when they are sick.

TheStreet: Could any of these illnesses lead to another shutdown of the Las Vegas Strip?

Bonat: It is unlikely that these illnesses will lead to another shutdown of the Las Vegas Strip. However, there may be more precautions and restrictions put into place to help prevent outbreaks, including mask wearing in crowded indoor spaces and potential requirements for Covid testing and/or proof of vaccination prior to attending events.

TheStreet: What else does the public need to know?

Bonat: Serious illness from Candida Auris infections is overall quite rare and it occurs primarily in hospitalized patients who have significant underlying health problems.

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